Best Efforts

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Kenny Moore was one of the world's top marathoners in the 1960s and 70s. He took 4th in the event at the 1972 Munich Olympics. He later became best known as a journalist and author. His topic of choice: running. 

In 1982 he published a book, Best Efforts: World Class Runners and Races. It is a remarkable piece of history. Moore captures the essence of what being a competitive runner in that era was all about. 

At the end of the first chapter, Moore goes on a run with Frank Shorter, the newly minted Olympic Marathon champion, the day after Shorter's historic win. He then details an exchange they shared at the conclusion of their very slow three-mile jog. 

"How do you think the medal will change things? I asked. 
Frank shook his head. "I'm no different. No delusions of grandeur. Hell, I couldn't run five miles this morning. If my life changes, it will be because other people change the way they behave towards me."
... "You know," I said. "all this time I thought the Olympic champion was somebody incredibly special."
Frank gave me a consoling look, as though he would have liked to protect me from this final disillusionment. "And then you found out," he said, "that it was only me."

American distance running owes Frank Shorter a debt of gratitude, his victory ignited the first major running boom. But, guessing by the passage above, he'd downplay his importance, as all great champions tend to do.

Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm

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Jonathan Marcus